Cherry Falls (1999) – Deep Cuts #14

A self-admitted huge fan of the teen post-Scream phase of the 1990’s, this was one of those films that snuck in at the last moment and somehow dodged my viewing pleasure. Even with huge name stars, it remained unseen by me … until today.  

Synopsis: 

In the small town of Cherry Falls, a psychotic murderer is killing off the virgins of the local high school. 

IMDb: 5.2 

Rotten Tomatoes: 61% 

Tagline: Lose your innocence – or lose your life. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing I read about this movie was the issues with censorship. There was an orgy scene near the end that Australian director Geoffrey Wright (Romper Stomper) demanded be shot with the actors completely nude, that had to be cut severely to avoid the dreaded X rating. This coupled with extreme violence and further sex scenes caused it to be submitted multiple times to the MPAA. Finally, after never successfully getting the R rating, USA Films bought the rights to it to show it on Cable TV (?!?!?) in a heavily censored version. To this day, the uncut version has never been seen on home media, only released as the television movie version that originally aired on the USA Network. 

Brittany Murphy, Jay Mohr, Michael Biehn, and DJ Qualls, have roles in the film and it was rumored that David Lynch was to direct the film but had to decline due to being in production for his film Mulholland Falls. Writer Ken Selden wrote 3 movies, this being his last, nearly 25 years ago.  

I realize it’s troubled history, but it actually feels like a TV movie at times. Except not a USA Network film, but a Lifetime film. You know, the poorly acted, over the top films that populate that channel. Films like Cookie Dough Mysteries or Garage Sale Murders (I made those up but if any Lifetime execs are reading this, I am willing to sell those titles to you). 

Brittany Murphy might just have the worst hair in the history of cinema. In this film, she looks like she is homeless, with black stringy unevenly cut hair, and she’s dressed as a borderline gothic persona. Her creepy relationship with her mother (Candy Clark of Q, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Amityville 3-D), who is incredibly flirtatious with her daughter’s (ex) boyfriend, and her father (Michael Biehn of Aliens and Terminator) who is oddly matched with the slutty wife and all too eager to make his daughter feel bad about being a virgin, all seem awkward and strange.  

As a matter of fact, all the actors put on performances that feel a bit off. Jay Mohr and Michael Biehn play it very lazily, laid back and stiff, while Brittany Murphy acts a bit cracked, and other scenes just play out weirdly. Examples being the flirting moment between the mother and the boyfriend right in front of her daughter, or the curiosity of the student in class asking about if the body was defiled sexually, or the secretary who lingers too long in the principal’s office to the point that she’s flirting with him and the equally weird flirting scene between the awkward teacher Jay Mohr and student Brittany. Everyone just plays their character like an overly medicated chatty mannequin.  

For being lumped in with the Scream fad of the 90s, it sure lacks the wit and sharp dialogue of those films. I feel like all of those big-name actors signed on expecting the second coming of I Know What You Did Last Summer, but instead, got saddled with Valentine. About the only thing it shares with that particular craze is the whole whodunit aspect of the story. The less I say about the reveal, though, the better. It’s cringe. 

The logic is just incredibly asinine in that I don’t know why there would be a giant class orgy to stop a killer who targets virgins. I could only imagine something like that happening in real life and people laughing at each other’s weens, cheerleaders getting banged by the nerds, and the prom queen going full DP with the football team. It’s just not good and I don’t understand its cult status. 

3.5/10 Stab Wounds 

About RetRo(n) 60 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.